What does downtime cost and how to avoid it

Down phones

What does downtime cost and how to avoid it

 

I love to read. One of my favorite authors is Malcom Gladwell who is renowned for explaining human nature and why we behave the way we do and why we make decisions. However, when it comes to phone services, it seems as if so many people make decisions based on a few narrow factors. Price, the charm of the salesperson and the inertia of staying with a current provider seem to be the qualities most common to business clients staying with a poor performing hosted voice provider. I read their horror stories – when the primary motive was saving money or they did a “plug and play” install – which turned out to be “plug and pray“.

In order to find out what is happening in real time to those people that make poor decisions, I went to www.downdetector.com. It is an interesting website where you can see outages from a variety of providers in real time. You can see maps of where outages are occurring and you can also read comments from people posting throughout the outages. It was astounding to see the comments and the shear misery of the downed businesses.

How much does misery cost? A simple method to calculate the cost of an outage is: what is the amount of fixed monthly expense you have per hour for the people that are most affected by the outage and cannot do their job. For example, if I have a call center taking inbound sales calls with seven agents and I am paying the agents each $12.00 per hour, my fixed direct cost is $84. An outage of 4 hours costs me $ 84 x 4= $336.  That is the lowest estimate of what that four hour outage cost – speak to your accountant on how your indirect costs will increase your cost (for most businesses) to almost double that amount. If I factor in the cost of lost business- people that were trying to reach me during those four down hours, my costs are further increased due to the lost revenue.

If I look at the heat map of the outages on downdetector.com, I see that I live in a sea of red for my Internet service provider- the worst place to be. How can I mitigate the costs of an outage? As my father has taught me, the best way out of a critical situation is never to be in one.

Technology is supposed to help us. Right? Well, that is why we have the latest and greatest development called SD WAN (software defined wide area network). The best way to make sure that your provider doesn’t go down is to make sure that you have multiple providers and multiple ways of reaching the Internet. That is the rationale behind SD-WAN. Basically, it means that you have a device on your premise that enables you to plug in multiple connections to the Internet into one device to make one big connection to the Internet. When service is not down due to an outage, you are able to aggregate your services. When service on one of the component connections is down, the SD WAN provider routes all of your traffic to the other connections. So if I have a cable modem, a fiber connection and a wireless LTE connection, the probability of all of them going down simultaneously is virtually null. If I couple that with a hosted service that is housed in a Level III data center and a portal that allows me to route incoming calls to other devices or locations, I have eliminated the chance of an outage.

If you look at 99% reliability, that means approximately 20 hours of down time a year. Even 99.9 % reliability can cost 2 hours of downtime. You can’t choose when that downtime is going to happen. It can happen at a low impact time – or it can happen at the worst possible moment.

Lessons Learned:

  • Go onto downdetector.com and see if there are lots of outages with your provider
  • If you want to avoid the risk of downtime, diversify your bandwidth
  • Make sure that your cloud phone provider is housed in the best possible data center
  • Make sure your cloud phone provider is completely virtualized with redundancy.
  • Make sure that you have access to a portal and know how to re-route your calls immediately.
  • Make sure that you use SD WAN as part of your total solution.

Icy weather

National Preparedness Month is over- are you ready for disaster?

The National Centers for Environmental Information reported that as of July 2016, there have been eight weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. Every September, known as National Preparedness Month, we are reminded of the toll natural disasters like hurricanes and wild fires take on businesses. However, business leaders know that in reality, smaller man-made disasters, such as spilled coffee, have an even greater chance of impacting our daily lives and operations.

We are now in the beginning of October so consider the following three tips to provide continuity  for your organization’s communications from all business disasters and disruptions.

Back up Business Data
Eliminate costly downtime and risks of on-site failures by securing all critical communications and information exclusively in the cloud. The ability to access information is vital to make day-to-day business decisions and to keep critical communications with customers and clients intact, especially in the case of any disasters. We can help make sure all pertinent data from desktops, laptops and servers are backed up in the cloud to make a business more accessible and flexible to both customers and employees.  Make sure that your provider encrypts calls and keeps data secure in the cloud so that nothing is vulnerable on-site.  If primary data is lost, corrupted or inaccessible, a backup copy of the data stored safely in the cloud, provide recovery tools and allow quick restoration of files on demand easily – no matter the location.

Off Site, Not Out of Touch
By outsourcing the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components, in the case of an event where power dies or flooding shorts out the server, the device will be elsewhere.  Before moving your infrastructure to the cloud, consider reliability. Our service provides a service level agreement (SLA), a written guarantee that details its reliability and guarantees 99.99 percent uptime. Scalability is equally important so make sure you can turn up and turn down servers on demand. All of our hosted products allow you to make changes using an online portal,  a web-based customer portal that allows you to get new resources up and running on a moment’s notice, regardless of location and without any capital investment or additional IT resources. The last thing you need to worry about during a recovery is how to fund your next server, upgrade an existing server on the fly or allocate more resources (RAM, CPUs, storage or bandwidth) to meet unanticipated demand.

Reassess Your Phones
Keeping phone calls flowing with customers and employees is a key factor in helping your business recover after a disruption. With hosted voice solutions the phones are in your office, but the intelligence of the service is secure in the cloud so that no matter where you are, you can use the system to help your business survive any disaster. Hosted voice offers unique applications and features, like softphones and mobile twinning that are cost-effective ways to enable mobility and disaster avoidance across your organization. The softphone is completely integrated, offering your employees professionals full office phone functionality and seamless communication, making and receiving calls through any internet-connected PC, from any location using the same extension and accessing the same features, such as call forwarding, extension-to-extension dialing and voicemail. Mobile twinning allows you to send calls to your cell and desk phone simultaneously for complete coverage, allowing inbound calls to be sent to your cell and desk phone at the same time so you don’t have to be in the office to take calls. The ability to turn any device into your office phone means that you can switch from device to device. Start a conversation on your desk phone in the office and seamlessly continue it on your mobile device should you need to leave the office.

National Preparedness Month is a great time to start placing business continuity at the forefront of business planning. However, consider prioritizing preparedness year-round so that you may never need to recover from disasters – natural or man-made – because you can avoid them altogether. By choosing to equip your business with any one of our hosted voice cloud phone services, no matter what issues affect your organization, the system will remain safe and employees can easily continue “business as usual” anytime, from any location.


Presence management

Presence Management: The Greatest Form of Communication

Want to increase communications and productivity between employees and customers?  Then, presence management is the way to go.  This wonderful technology gives all individuals within a company the ability to know what everyone is else is doing in real-time.  Is someone in the building or even at their desk? Are they in a meeting? Are they on the phone? By having this information one can determine if and in what manner to connect with another person.  That’s essentially the purpose of presence management and it’s enhancing the way we communicate. Having this information presents one with an array of communication options that’s dramatically driving up productivity for those companies – both large and small deploying presence management.

Unified presence management is driven off of a company’s voice and data system and empowers people to control every facet of their communications.  It includes and functions off of all devices such as computers, cell phones, Voice over IP (VoIP), and personal communications services.  As soon as someone logs onto their computer a pop up window appears containing the names of fellow employees and their current activity as well as their location.  Essentially, the technology lets you see the presence status of others, send emails and voicemails, receive faxes, control all your phone calls via desktop phones or a softphone, send secure Instant Messages and voice messages, launch a collaborative web conference session – all with a single mouse click.  Users may also put notes into presence for everyone to see.  For example, a note may have the time when an employee will be back in the office from lunch or say an off-site meeting.  Another user may make everyone aware that they may be working from home that day.  Knowing everyone’s availability offers greater options to rapidly assist with everyday business issues.

The power of presence is absolutely incredible.  For instance, a customer may contact your facility with a question and the individual that answered the phone may not have the necessary information to respond appropriately.  Immediately, the employee can view presence and see who is available to assist the customer.  They may send a question via an instant message or put the caller on hold, contact their colleague to gather the information or directly transfer the call while giving the colleague a heads up.  The flexibility of presence is tremendous and one can assume that it is easily driving customer satisfaction levels through the roof.  A basic phone system cannot operate in this fashion and unfortunately those that utilize traditional telephony are missing the boat.

Included in presence are such features as find me follow me.  This unique technology gives people the ability to reach a specific individual anytime, anywhere based on the implementation of a few easy to set rules in the system.  A can call come in and the caller has the option of finding the person on their cell phone or at another predetermined location.  The user may also have all calls set to directly transfer to the cell as well.  Another relatively new feature is twinning – a setting that rings both the desk and mobile phone simultaneously.  Reaching the person you want to, has never been this easy.

Time is more important than ever in today’s business environment.  Presence management saves an incredible amount of time because of the technology’s innate ability to drive efficiency and productivity.  Every business owner realizes the positive impact that even a minimal amount of improvement in this area can have on an organization’s bottom line, not to mention the empowerment an employee has to make better-informed communication decisions that in the end drives satisfaction in the workplace.  Presence management is a true win for everybody!


Communications solutions Chicago

communications continuity

Prepare your business for winter storms

Before the next big storm of the winter season hits, here’s how to ensure your business stays connected.

Prepare your business for winter weather.

For businesses that use Broadview Networks’ cloud-based OfficeSuite® Phone, keeping in touch when their office must close is easy. Since the system is hosted in the cloud, changes can be made via an online portal that is accessible from laptops, tablets and smartphones. OfficeSuite Phone helps businesses deal with power outages; effectively manage working from home; keep the lines of communication open; and create a disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

Before the evening commute kicks off early today, here are a few tips for making sure your business does not lose touch during the storm.

  • Make Changes Online – to set up or change any of the features below, simply login to the OfficeSuite website.
  • Create a New Automated Greeting – Let callers know about changes in hours or closings. You can set up the Auto Attendant so that callers can be directed to employees’ home or cell phones, or to another business location that will not be impacted by the storm.
  • Set up Emergency Override – Ensure all calls to your business are handled. With Emergency Override Routing, all calls to all of your company’s phone numbers (that have this feature enabled) will be routed to whatever destination you choose.
  • Forward Calls to Another Number Using your Desk Phone – By setting up a Forward to Prompt button and pressing it before leaving your business today.
  • Modify Call Handling – Change where calls are sent when you cannot answer. Send calls to voicemail, auto attendant, co-worker or to another phone number, like your home or cell phone. Change this online anytime.
  • Change Incoming Call Routing – Modify where calls are sent so that each call can either be answered or handled with a voicemail box.
  • Set up Mobile Twinning – Have all calls ring your desk phone and your cell phone so you can stay in touch no matter where you are.
  • Get Voicemail Anywhere – in email as an attachment or transcribed message, with our free Voicemail App for iPhone or Android, or as a text notification.
  • Turn your Mobile Phone or PC into Your Office Phone – with our Mobile Softphones, your mobile phone or PC/laptop can becoming a fully-functional office phone that uses your business phone number.
  • Forward Calls, Open Trouble Tickets, Manage Toll-free Service, Pay Bills – all online viaeCare Enterprise.